Crappy Girl Stuff

The Butcher and I went to Walmart yesterday.  Yes, Walmart.  Land that I loathe, stand beside her and guide her through the night with a light from below.

My feelings about Walmart remain unchanged, but eventually they just beat you down.  You walk through the aisles and everything is, basically, a dollar cheaper than it is at the grocery store.  And they have all that non-grocery crap.  And I know it’s because they’re evil and they lock their employees in at night with no pay and strong-arm companies into producing cheap crap with their name on it but not their quality.  I know.  I know.  I know.

But a dollar an item.

And man, I walked through the aisles and saw what they were getting for cereal and cookies and milk and I was just enraged and then resigned.  We shop at Walmart.  The ant-Christ has sucked us in.

Anyway, on the way there we were talking about luck and how talent has a lot to do with stuff, but being able to be in the right place at the right time has more.  The Butcher, for instance, went to a show with the best guitarist he and I have ever heard in person.  That guitarist was not playing in the show.  He was sitting at the table with the Butcher.  That guitarist works at Electronic Express to support his family and doesn’t have time to try to be recognized as a great guitarist.

And our talk turned to the best drummer we know, who is sitting in a tiny town in Illinois, with lovely wife and two children.

Which got us thinking about high school and I was recounting the lovely calculus teacher I had who made the three girls in the class sit in the front because “girls have a harder time at math than boys.”  And the Butcher was all “But you were already good enough to get into calculus.”


Anyway, we were talking about some friends of ours who lived together for ages and then finally got married and, after the wedding, their relationship seems to have, from the outside, taken a turn for the strangely worse.  The fight all the time.  But as we talked about it, I realized that all their fights have a recurring theme: she has taken it upon herself to fix him–she encouraged him to get a different job, she wants him to hang out with different people, she wants him to take up different hobbies, etc., etc., etc.  And some of the stuff, like encouraging him to get a new job, didn’t seem too weird when it happened, because who doesn’t appreciate a supportive someone who says “You can do better and deserve better?”

But others of it really seems like, “But you knew he had and loved these friends and had these passtimes and loved them, because that’s exactly who he hung out with and what they did together when you were living with him.”  It’s like, now that they’ve gotten married, she’s changed the rules.

And, granted, we’re only hearing this from his side, but I’ve seen a lot of young women who do this–devote all this energy into changing their husbands into the kind of man they should have just married in the first place.

It’s a weird message women are getting–strive to get married; your wedding is your dream day and any old shmoe will do for the part of the groom, and don’t worry, once you get him, you can change him into the man of your dreams.

Not only is this grossly unfair to the person you marry, but this seems to me to be another instance of the bizarre busywork society gives women to keep us from being productive, active agents in our own lives, and in society.

The biggest busywork we’re given is dieting.  Memorize the numbers, make repeated visits to the scale, worry about whether you’ve been good or bad, think of your health, think of your health.  Be hungry and cranky and less effective.  Succeed, but it all comes back.  So, do it again.  Over and over, focus on that.

I have a friend who was on Jenny Craig who said it was like having a second part-time job.  And I’m starting to see it’s not “like.”  It is.  It’s a way to eat up hours of your day on a task you’re designed to fail at, so that you keep having to do it, over and over, so that those hours aren’t taken up with more interesting pursuits.

And I’m beginning to see this whole “Fix your man” task in the same light.  Like dieting, there’s always some success story held out there for us all to aspire to.  Some heterosexual woman somewhere has succeeded in fixing her man and you can, too.  In reality, though, you cannot change anyone but your own self, so you are destined to fail at this, thus necessitating that you keep trying, harder.

On another task you cannot, by design, complete successfully.


11 thoughts on “Crappy Girl Stuff

  1. I think the culture of dieting has actually conditioned women to accept less than they want in a man, or in any other aspect of our lives, for that matter. We grow used to living with a gnawing discomfort in our gut, and are told that we don’t deserve to be sated. If your physical body doesn’t deserve to be full, and if in fact being full will make you fat, and therefore ugly-poor-dirty-miserable-unloveable, how can we possibly search for emotional satiety? Instead we accept that which almost sates us, and try to make it work. Which, as you say, it doesn’t. Again and again and again.

  2. This entry is like my walking around the block and following every scent — stream of conscious writing from Walmart. Who would have thought it could be so inspiring?

  3. OC, I think that’s a good point and I want to mull it over some. Are we being conditioned to accept discomfort as the “right” state of being?


  4. I see things a bit differently. Growing up, I heard that nonsense “there’s a perfect man out there…blah blah blah” – like our own Ken to go with Barbie. I realized long ago that there is no perfect man – But then it dawned on me, that if he is out there being all perfect, he sure as hell won’t want me, because I’m far from perfect myself. So, I had to rectify my thinking that there are men out there, perhaps, that would be perfect for me – even though he may be screwed up – we’re all screwed up, Lord knows I am.

    As for changing a man, that won’t happen. People don’t change under the will of another person – they might for a short while, but not for the long term. True change comes from a desire within a person. I’ve seen it time and again – women going “I don’t like that about ____, I’ll change him” – it ain’t happening, ladies. Stop it.
    I’ve never understood people who date someone with a habit, say smoking crack – and a woman will date someone knowing the person is a crackhead – but then after about a month, they start nagging the person to put the crack pipe down. I just want to shake these women and say “but you knew he smoked crack when you met him!”

  5. OK, I am officially confused. This is THAT common — women trying to “fix” their mates? Because I need to spread the word among my fellow-men — I can’t imagaine too many men agreeing to be married under those conditions. From a man’s perspective, the greatest problem here is the deceit — of the woman in pretending she’s OK with the guy’s way of life before the wedding.

  6. Well, duh, obviously the biggest problem is the bizarro deceit that’s going on, at every level. But the part that interests me at the moment is the self-deception. It’s easier for everyone involved if women marry people who are already the people they’d like to marry.

    I repeat. It’s easier. It’s less likely to lead to heartache.

    So, why in the world do women keep taking the more difficult, and more painful to everyone involved, path?

  7. I am reminded of my favorite (despite its truly awful ideas about love and gender) musical. “Boots! Galoshes! Ovaltine!”

  8. I have a friend who was on Jenny Craig who said it was like having a second part-time job.

    As someone who’s been there, I can say that truer words have not been spoken. Although at least they don’t make you calculate your “points” like Weight Watchers does, that’s a full-time job.

  9. I think the ‘fix your man’ thing is out of lazyness. Maybe not lazyness, maybe dating fatigue. When you first meet someone you may see a few flaws and think ‘I’ll just hang around for awhile and see what happens.’ By the time the flaws really get to you, you’ve invested so much in the relationship you decide to change the guy instead of looking for another.

  10. “OC, I think that’s a good point and I want to mull it over some. Are we being conditioned to accept discomfort as the “right” state of being?”

    Oh, I think so, very much so! Especially for those of us who were pushed into dieting as children. We’re taught that the physical discomfort of hunger is something to tolerate, to push through, even to enjoy as it is a sign of our passage into a more beautiful body. That beauty will then bring us All Good Things. So I don’t think it’s a huge leap to think that we’re taught not only that it’s right to be uncomfortable all the time, but that discomfort will bring rewards.

  11. > This is THAT common — women trying to “fix” their mates?

    You’ve never heard the old joke? “Women marry men thinking that they’ll change. Men marry women thinking that they won’t.”

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